Joshua 23-24
(Joshua's Farewell Speech)
March 11th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

Click here for a print-friendly version

Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verses

"If you transgress the covenant of the Lord your God, which he enjoined on you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from the good land that he has given to you.”

- Joshua 23:16 (NRSV)

Summary of Chapters

In the last two chapters of Joshua we can read Joshua’s farewell speech to the Israelite people, whom he gathered together at Shechem. His adieu was relatively brief compared to the one from his predecessor, Moses, which had encompassed most of Deuteronomy. However, Joshua addresses all of the key points of Israel's history and previous instructions, as recorded in chapter 23:

    It was the LORD your God who fought for you (23:3)
    Obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses (23:6)
    Do not associate with these nations that remain among you (23:7)

    If you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations…then God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land (23:12-13)

Chapter 24 begins with a synopsis of the history of Israel, dictated by the LORD, beginning with the father of Abraham and ending with the recent conquest of Canaan. Joshua then renews the covenant with the people, who pledge themselves to God. The book records that the crowd was inspired to commitment:

    And the people said to Joshua, “We will serve the LORD our God and obey him.”

    - Joshua 24:24 (NIV)

Joshua passed away and was buried in the Promised Land where he had settled. The people also re-buried the bones of Joseph, son of Jacob, which they had brought from Egypt and carried through the desert for 40 years. Joseph was the patriarch of the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim and held a special place among the other patriarchs because he brought his family into Egypt to save them from famine, even though his brothers had sold him as a slave (Genesis chapters 37-50).

Joseph is buried in Shechem, which was situated within the boundaries of the land of Ephraim. Eleazar the head priest also passed away. It was time for the next generation to lead.

Reflection and Application

Joshua is an excellent model of a leader with the following attributes:

    Obedient to God
    Faithful in believing what God can do
    Patient in waiting for God to deliver and patient in waiting for his turn to lead
    Diligent in carrying out the actions assigned to him
    Humble in recognizing that victory belongs to the LORD

Joshua was human, so he must have had some flaws, but we see very few in the books of the Pentateuch and the book of Joshua. His one obvious mistake was when he was conned by the Gibeonites, as recorded back in chapter 9 of the book of Joshua. However, Joshua did not dwell and stress out over this mistake. Instead, he carried on with his mission and even upheld his side of the contract with the Gibeonites. We are on the right track if we emulate his obedience, faithfulness, patience, diligence, and humility.

If you had not had the opportunity to read the five books of the Pentateuch or the beginning of Joshua, then you can capitalize on a concise summary provided by the LORD in today's reading of Joshua 24. This history notes a number of the key milestones in their history. On this occasion, the LORD did not mention how the Israelites chickened out on their first attempt to conquer Canaan, in the first year after leaving Egypt. Joshua certainly remembered it because he and Caleb were the only ones who were faithful and brave enough to advocate taking the land, as we learned in Numbers 13.

In the covenant renewal ceremony the people agreed to follow the LORD, but there was a big set of boots to fill in order to replace Joshua. How would the next series of leaders fare? Would the people stay on the right path with or without a good leader? We will find out in the book of Judges, which we begin studying tomorrow.

Many of us face similar challenges. How can we take leadership over our own lives to overcome tendencies to stray left and right from the road he has given us? If we choose to follow the LORD, we must pray for perseverance to continue to follow him and accept the Holy Spirit as the true leader who will strengthen and guide us.

We have concluded the book of Joshua. What are the words and themes that linger in your mind as your reflect upon the chapters we read? Check out the word cloud at the link below that provides a graphical representation of the frequency of occurrence of each word in the 1984 New International Version of the Bible (other than most common words and all numbers):

66 Clouds: Joshua

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What are the stories in human history that you like to read or hear about over and over?
    2. Who has been the figure in the Bible that you most relate to so far?
    3. Why is it so difficult for humans to stick with a program?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we recognize you as one who has brought us out of the slavery of sin. We thank you for your protection and ask you to help us stick with the program.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Leaders who are seeking an effective transition to their successors

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Overview of Judges and Judges 1-2 (Incomplete Conquest)

    Comments and Questions
    If you have comments or questions, please add them to our Comments page, email to the author at, or share your comments or questions via the Listening for God Twitter account

    Click to follow Listening for God(@listeningforgod)